Introducing the MOTR Podcast

Today we are announcing the third podcast that Asphalt & Rubber is involved with, the Motorcycles on the Record Podcast…or as we like to call it: the MOTR Podcast. The concept is pretty simple, as the MOTR Podcast is designed to compliment our popular Two Enthusiasts Podcast production. For those who don’t listen to it aleady, on the Two Enthusiasts Podcast, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson take an outside perspective on what is happening in the motorcycle industry. So, to contrast that with the MOTR Podcast, this new show will provide an insider’s view of what’s going on in motorcycles, with a focus on interviews and discussions with the industry’s leading figures.

Say Hello to the New Triumph Speed Triple RS

Back in 1994, Triumph created the streetfighter segment with the Speed Triple. But, the bike of 20 years ago is very different from the one debuting today, however the basic ethos remains: an aggressive sport bike for the city streets. In this time span though, the streetfighter segment has changed. Brands like KTM and Aprilia rule the roost, with high-horsepower bikes that come competently packed with high-tech electronics. Hoping to stay relevant with the same basic 1050cc platform, the British marque shows us now the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS – which boasts over 100 “new” parts just in the engine alone. The changes are subtle to the outgoing model though, but the highlights do stand out.

2018 Alta Motors Redshift MXR Officially Debuts – More Power, More Torque, Less Weight, and “Overclocking”

Here it is. After we broke the story that Alta Motors would be debuting an R-spec machine for its motocross line, we get our first glimpse of the 2018 Alta Motor Redshift MXR. A souped-up version of the 2018 model, which already gets some upgrades over last year’s bike, the Redshift MXR boasts some impressive features, in the pursuit of a no-compromises MX race bike. As such, Alta is quoting a stout 50hp and 42 lbs•ft of torque for the Redshift MXR, while the “wet” weight of the machine has been reduced by 8 lbs, to 259 lbs ready-to-ride. Recharge times have also been reduced, to just 1.5hrs on a 220v system – a savings of 30 minutes over the standard model.

Harley-Davidson Electric Motorcycle Coming in 18 Months

Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant. The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production. The Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric. Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.

Harley-Davidson Will Close Its Kansas City Plant

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand. That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating. The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

Hervé Poncharal Talks About Replacing Jonas Folger

It is hard to envision a worse time to lose a rider for the season. Jonas Folger’s announcement that he was withdrawing from the 2018 MotoGP season to focus on his health was a hammer blow for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Just weeks before the start of testing for the new season, and long after riders good enough to race in MotoGP have signed contracts, Tech 3 team boss Hervé Poncharal is left looking for a replacement. It is a massive task, especially as Poncharal is refusing to break any contracts to take a rider. “You would be amazed to hear how many phone calls I have had, and who from,” he told us. “There were some interesting names, honestly, but priority for me, the basis for me is that I will never take or enter into any kind of discussion with someone who has a contract.”

Honda and Forever 21 Create Clothing Line for Millennials

An interesting news item for you today, as Honda has teamed up with Forever 21 to bring young adults a unique motorcycle-branded line of clothing. The apparel line is inspired by Honda liveries from the 1980’s and 1990’s, though with a healthy dose of on-trend fashion, for both men and women. “Honda’s motorcycle racing success in the ’80s and ’90s was legendary, with our riders earning many championships in domestic and international series,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Honda Powersports Marketing. “While we’re focused on winning with our current teams, it’s fun to see our racing heritage honored by Forever 21 with a completely new audience.”

What You Need to Know About the Ducati Panigale V4 S

Is the Ducati Panigale V4 S the most anticipated motorcycle of 2018? If you are a diehard sport biker, the answer is probably yes, though a number of significant models are debuting this year, from several manufacturers. Still, in terms of ground-changing machines, the Panigale V4 has to rank high up on the list, as it is Ducati’s first proper four-cylinder motorcycle to go into mainstream production. I am writing to you today from Valencia, Spain – where we just finished a day of riding at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, which is better known as the final stop on the MotoGP Championship calendar. So, let me tell you what you need to know about Ducati’s new flagship motorcycle, the Panigale V4 S. 

What You Need to Know About the 2018 Honda Gold Wing

We just finished riding the 2018 Honda Gold Wing Tour in Austin, Texas – a day early I might add…because it’s snowing…in Texas. Still, clocking close to 200 miles on Honda’s sixth generation of this venerable touring machine has provided us with some interesting insights into the next Wing. A bike designed for long-distance riding, we have gathered our thoughts on the new Honda Gold Wing Tour, in a short and sweet format, so you can sound informed at your next bike night or internet forum. Overall, the all-new Honda Gold Wing Tour is a smart update to an iconic motorcycle, and it brings the Gold Wing name inline with the current state of technology. As we found on the road,  the new Gold Wing is an improvement over its predecessor, but that comes with a caveat or two.

Brembo Issues Statement on Its Master Cylinder Recall

Just over a week ago, we broke the news that a massive recall was coming to motorcycles equipped with a particular Brembo master cylinder. Since then, we have seen recall notices from Aprilia and Ducati (affecting roughly 10,000 motorcycles in the USA) with more recalls expected from other brands. Because recalls in the United States typically come from the motorcycle manufacturer and not the part supplier, mum was the word from the folks at Brembo, though there were a number of questions regarding these recalls that weren’t answered in the NHTSA documents. Today, Brembo has finally decided to speak about the recalls that are underway in the United States, and presumably will be occurring in other markets as well.

Triumph All But Shows Us the New Speed Triple RS

02/01/2018 @ 3:08 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We continue our wait for the updated Triumph Speed Triple, which our sources say will be getting a mild refresh (more power, less weight, electronics, etc), similar to what we’ve seen with the rest of Triumph’s modern sport bike lineup (Street Triple, Tiger 800, and Tiger 1200).

To help tease us into this “new” model, Triumph has enlisted the help of two pretty famous blokes: Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson.

In their teaser video, the two racers duke it out in some sort of race through an airfield, which is fine and all, but in the process of it, Triumph gives a pretty good glimpse of the 2018 Triumph Speed Triple RS.

The overall design of the new RS model is pretty close to the 2017 edition, though a couple subtle changes are noticeable. We will get full details next week. Until then…

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A New Triumph Speed Triple is Coming…Finally!

01/25/2018 @ 3:58 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

I never thought this day would come, a day where Triumph finally updates its venerable Speed Triple. The three-cylinder streetfighter has long held its own, but it has also seen the super-naked category walk away from the British model over the past 13 years of its sloth.

Yes, there have been updates over the past decade or so, but the model hasn’t strayed too far from its original form from 2005. That is set to change however, as a teaser video and CARB filings give us word that a new Triumph Speed Triple is on the way.

Judging from the video that Triumph released, we don’t think that the new Speed Triple will be a revolutionary change. The chassis seems relatively similar to the previous edition, and the overall design seems roughly the same.

Meanwhile, CARB filings show that the engine size will remain 1050cc and that the trim levels will be designated as “R” and “RS”. We can expect more power and other internal changes though, as Triumph chases machines like the KTM 1290 Super Duke R and Aprilia Tuono V4 1100.

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The TVS Apache RR 310S Is Finally About to Drop

12/05/2017 @ 2:07 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We have been patiently waiting for the TVS Apache RR 310S (formerly known as the TVS Akula 310) to debut in India, though probably not for the most obvious of reasons. Now, with only a matter of hours before it officially debuts, we have some thoughts on the newest sport bike from India.

While we are intrigued by the new motorcycles that debut in India, the TVS Apache RR 310S is a bit more special for Western riders.

Built in collaboration with BMW Motorrad, the TVS Apache RR 310S gives us our first glimpse into what the German brand’s 300cc-class sport bike will look like, which should hopefully debut late-2018.

Based around the same 313cc engine (34hp) that is found on the BMW G310R and BMW G310GS, that TVS Apache RR 310S is expected to be a BMW G310RR wrapped in different bodywork.

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To compliment the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen becoming a production model, Swedish marque Husqvarna will show a new concept bike at this year’s EICMA show in Milan. Unsurprisingly, that bike will be the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen.

We know this because Husqvarna had not-so-subtley teased the new model on its Instagram account: giving us the name, size, and numerous detail shots of the motorcycle concept.

As such, we know that the Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen will carryover many of the design elements found on the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen. Like the other Svartpilen models though, the 701 Svartpilen will be a scrambler-styled bike, complete with Pirelli MT60 RS tires.

Given its preamble in Milan, we can expect that Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen to be a 2019 model year motorcycle…that is, if Husky can get its act together, as we are long overdue on the two 401 models becoming available, after their release at the 2016 EICMA show.

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On its Instagram account, Husqvarna is teasing the fact that its next Vitpilen model is finally going prime time. That’s right, the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen will be unveiled tomorrow at EICMA as a production.

This shouldn’t be too big of a surprise for anyone following the Swedish brand (or who read our EICMA preview story), but considering the reception that the Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen concept got at last year’s show, we would expect the Husqvarna stand to be pretty crowded in Milan.

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BMW F850GS Teased for EICMA Debut

11/03/2017 @ 6:54 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

BMW Motorrad is set to debut four new motorcycles at this year’s EICMA show, and surely one of those news machines will be the BMW F850GS.

How do we know this? Well, BMW was pretty obvious about the new model in its latest teaser video (watch it, after the jump). It also helps that the revised middleweight ADV bike has been caught numerous times by spy photographer.

Also helping this conjecture is the fact that the BMW F800GS was last updated for the 2013 model year, with a visual refresh for the 2016 model year. As such, the model is due for an overhaul. 

Expected to have a bit more punch than the outgoing F800GS, the 2018 BMW F850GS should provide a bit more stratification in BMW’s adventure-touring range, which gets a bit confusing when you get to the models below the venerable BMW R1200GS.

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Honda seems set to update the Africa Twin, its plucky ADV model, with a more off-road focused machine. Teasing the new model online, the Honda Africa Twin “Big Tank” – nicknamed for its supposedly larger 22-liter fuel tank – is expected to debut next week at the EICMA show in Milan.

Not too much is known about the machine, but we expect it to borrow heavily from the Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sports Concept, which debuted at the Osaka Motorcycle Show last year.

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Triumph Teases New Tiger for EICMA Debut

10/27/2017 @ 11:45 am, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

Triumph looks set to update its ADV range, as the British marque is teasing a new Tiger adventure bike in its latest YouTube video.

Touting that the three-cylinder platform has been “transformed” and is packed with more “technology”, Triumph’s teaser is deliciously vague.

What we do know is that Triumph has fallen behind greatly with its modern motorcycles, with the Hinckley brand hyper-focused on its heritage lineup of Bonneville variants.

As such, the Triumph Tiger 800 has remained largely the same, since its 2010 debut, though was updated in 2015 with an improved engine, ride-by-wire, and traction control. The Tiger Explorer 1200 on the other hand was released in 2012, and given modest updates for the 2016 model year.

Both machines however have been overcome by continued pressure from other brands in the middleweight and heavyweight ADV categories, with BMW, Ducati, and KTM all releasing competing models that have been refreshed since the Tigers’ inception date.

Hopefully this teaser video signals that we will see Triumph’s entire lineup overhauled for the 2018 model year. It desperately needs it.

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This Is Surely the Suzuki SV650X, A Café Racer

10/26/2017 @ 6:19 pm, by Jensen BeelerADD COMMENTS

We are pretty confident that Suzuki has some interesting motorcycles for us at this year’s EICMA show. This is not one of them.

Part of the “me too” movement that the Japanese manufacturers are going through in order to have heritage motorcycles in their lineup, the 2018 Suzuki SV650X is exactly what you think it is: the company’s popular street bike, dressed in a vintage aesthetic.

There isn’t anything wrong with that, per se, as we have seen some great builds using the same formula, like the Yamaha XSR900 and more recently the Kawasaki Z900RS and Honda Neo Sports Café concept.

However, we know exactly what we are getting with the Suzuki SV650X, and it’s not pretty. With the concept already getting unveiled at the Tokyo Motor, we expect its debut for the Western markets to happen in Milan, Italy. Look for it next week.

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If we had to guess at a unifying theme for this year’s new bike launches, it would have to be “what is old is new again” as several brands are working on modern-engineered retro-styled motorcycles for the Tokyo and Milan expos.

Big Red is throwing its hat into the ring for this game as well, teasing what it calls the “Neo-Sport Café” on its YouTube channel. The videos center around Honda’s design and engineering team working on a new motorcycle, which will debut next month at the EICMA show in Milan.

In the teaser videos, we see a retro-looking motorcycle, with modern flares, such as an LED headlight, single-sided swingarm, and bazooka shaped exhaust can.

And then of course, there is the name” Neo-Sport Café and Honda’s description that it is true to “the spirt of the café racer.

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